A tentative step out of lockdown

By Lauren Edwards

Things I thought I would never hear on the news: “If you want to know how to hug cautiously, please head to our website for a guide on how to do this.”

This was the advice given to us as we moved through the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown. We can now invite another household or a group of six inside our homes, and hugs are back, although with caution and perhaps facing the other way and talking on in breaths. Handshakes can go ahead but should immediately be followed with a dousing of hand sanitiser and for both parties to not to take this personally!

We can head inside a pub and no longer have to shiver on a picnic bench in a pub car park, next to an inadequate heater, or under a gazebo in the rain. Indoor exercise classes are permitted once more, and we can go back to the cinema and finally see the new Bond movie before Daniel Craig draws his pension.

Holidays in the UK have been given the green light but overseas destinations on the green list are limited and frankly bizarre. I believe that the decision of which countries should be allowed has been decided using an old copy of Prince Charles’s itinerary from his last Commonwealth trip and include The Falklands, Brunei, Singapore, and the Faroe Islands.

Of the other destinations on the green list, most are actually in their winter so you might as well freeze in Blighty, some were only accessible via countries on the red list which seems a bit pointless, so that only really leaves Gibraltar (with restrictions), Iceland (only if you have had both vaccines), Israel (not the best time?) and Portugal (never have golfing holidays seem so inviting).

For those of you considering a mini break to one of the approved green destinations, will your airport experience be the same as before? Will you be able to mooch about the shops, take in a Wetherspoons breakfast and a glass of pre-flight bubbly at the champagne bar? Well, firstly, you will need a negative PCR ‘fit to fly’ test which has to be booked privately in advance and prices range from £65 to £120. These will have to be repeated during your holiday, for your return journey, so you may need to forgo your duty-free shopping to stump up the cash for your numerous tests.

Mask wearing and temperature checks are required, and airport queues might not be for the fainthearted as along with passport checks, you will now need your test results and vaccination status checked and will depend on the country that you arrived from as to what they need to know.

How amber are the amber countries really? Well, according to our Health Secretary Matt Hancock; “Destinations on the amber list, including Spain, France, Italy and Greece, are places that you shouldn’t go to unless you have an absolutely compelling reason.”

Two of my best friends live in Ibiza and I haven’t seen them since February 2020, Mr Hancock, I believe that my need to lounge in their mountain top villa for my mental health is a compelling enough reason surely? Hang on, according to government guidance, to enter Spain you need to have a negative PCR test, TMA (Transcription-Mediated Amplification) or a LAMP (Loop-Meditated Isothermal Amplification) swab test taken within 72 hours of arrival. And to think that all we once worried about was an E111 form when visiting Europe!

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